Real Madrid 4-1 Atletico Madrid (AET): Real snatch late equaliser at end of cautious first 90 minutes before becoming rampant in extra-time

May 27, 2014
Real Madrid 4-1 Atletico Madrid (AET): Real snatch late equaliser at end of cautious first 90 minutes before becoming rampant in extra-time

Real won the European Cup final with an impressive late rally.

Carlo Ancelotti selected Sami Khedira as Xabi Alonso’s replacement deep in midfield, and chose Fabio Coentrao over Marcelo at left-back. Raphael Varane started rather than Pepe, who wasn’t 100% fit.

Diego Simeone wasn’t able to call upon Arda Turan, so Raul Garcia started on the right. Simeone gambled on the fitness of Diego Costa, but the Brazilian-cum-Spaniard was nowhere near fully fit, and Adrian Lopez replaced him inside ten minutes.

This looked set to be a classic underdog victory – reactive, counter-attacking and with the winner from a set-piece – but Real’s own set-piece equaliser forced extra-time, and from then there was only one winner. Read more »

Barcelona 1-1 Atletico: Simeone’s side seal historic title victory at the Camp Nou

May 19, 2014
Barcelona 1-1 Atletico: Simeone’s side seal historic title victory at the Camp Nou

Atletico fought back from 1-0 down to record the most amazing title victory in years.

Gerardo Martino surprisingly left out Xavi Hernandez from his starting XI, with Neymar also only on the bench. Cesc Fabregas and Pedro Rodriguez were preferred.

Diego Simeone named two strikers in an attack-minded line-up, although he lost both Diego Costa and Arda Turan through injury before half-time, with Adrian Lopez and Raul Garcia replacing them.

Barcelona had spells of pressure, took the lead and rallied late on – but overall this was another superb defensive performance from Atletico, meaning they ended the season unbeaten against Barca, with one victory and five draws. Read more »

Pass completion and possession

May 16, 2014
Pass completion and possession

Last week’s graph proved reasonably popular, so here’s another…

This graph is much simpler. It shows the average possession along the bottom, and the pass completion rate along the left.

These two metrics are generally considered to be, more or less, the same thing. They measure how well each side passes the ball. If your pass completion rate is very high, logically you’ll keep possession more. Or, to look at it the other way around, if your side is focused upon keeping possession, they’ll play safe passes and therefore complete a high percentage of them. Nothing too complex there.

This graph, then, which looks at Premier League sides over the course of this season, essentially confirms this pattern. Read more »

Points per game record versus top half and bottom half shows why Chelsea lost the title, and why Sunderland survived

May 9, 2014
Points per game record versus top half and bottom half shows why Chelsea lost the title, and why Sunderland survived

If there’s one result that sums up the crazy, unpredictable end to this Premier League season, it’s Chelsea’s 2-1 defeat at home to Sunderland.

That was Jose Mourinho’s first home league defeat as Chelsea manager, after 78 games, and proved crucial at both top and bottom. Chelsea’s chances of winning the league title took a huge blow, while Sunderland continued their great escape.

However, to a certain extent that result was typical of their campaigns, because Chelsea and Sunderland are the two sides in the division that have collected more points against top half sides, than against bottom half sides. Read more »